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Black Sabbath

Ain't Nothin' But a Cloudy Sunday at Church


Black Sabbath


Master of Reality

Vol. 4

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Live at Last


Technical Ecstasy

Never Say Die!

Heaven and Hell

Mob Rules

Live Evil

Born Again

Seventh Star

The Eternal Idol

Headless Cross



Cross Purposes




The Lineup Card 1969-2000

 * Tony Iommi (guitars)*

Ozzy Osbourne (vocals) until 1979, 1998-2000

Bill Ward (drums) until 1980, 1983, 1998-2000

Terence 'Geezer' Butler (bass) until 1985, 1998-2000

Ronnie James Dio (vocals) 1980-1982, 1992 also of Rainbow

Ian Gillan (vocals) 1983-4 also of Deep Purple

* From here, I'm only listing major or notable changes to the Black Sabbath Lineup*

Vinnie Appice (drums) 1981-83, 1992 also of Dio and others

Glenn Hughes (vocals) 1986 also of Deep Purple, the KLF, and others

Bev Bevan (drums) 1987, also of Electric Light Orchestra

Eric Singer (drums) 1986 later of Kiss

Tony Martin (vocals) 1987-90, 1994-5

Cozy Powell (drums) 1989, 1995 also of Rainbow, Emerson, Lake and Powell, and many others

Black Sabbath deserve recognition for one thing and only that one thing, and that's for creating heavy metal music. They took heavy blues (or 'blooze', if you can't spell) and morphed it, took out all the funk and blackness, and stripped it down to a grinding, dental-work destroying, bone splattering RIFF FEST. You know what, bozo? It was all a big accident, too. They were just four Brummie stoners who couldn't play in the straight confines of late 60's rock well enough to impress anyone, so they just made everything louder, lower, louder, slower, louder, heavier, louder, and simpler, and louder, did I mention? And there's still some that claim these pioneers were best at what they did. They were blessed with singer Ozzy Osbourne's distinctive voice, who some folks claim is boring, others unlistenable, but in my opinion one of the more consistently good, if not surprising, vocalists in rock. They also had guitarist Tony Iommi, who wasn't really much of a flash guy in the sense of a Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore, but held under his sway some of the most drippingly heavenly heavy guitar tones ever fuzzed-over. And came up with some kicker riffs, too, and the riff is the part we listen to, isn't it? The other two guys, bassist/lyricist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward, are just fine for the group, but are pretty limited in their talents. But the whole was more than the sum of your tender parts, and from 1969-1975 or so, this band was the wicked messengers for all longhaired lazy stoner kids whacked down by a handful of downers and a couple of bowls of stinkweed. The products of these six years are still worshipped 30 odd years later, and very few bands have approached the blessedly fat sound of the classic Black Sabbath crushing their way through a riff.

Unfortunately, the story didn't end there. It didn't end 4 years later when Ozzy was fired from the band. It didn't end when Ronnie James Dio came and went. It didn't even end with Ian Gillan, he of the shot pipes and 'Child In Time', ruining eardrums in 1983. No, Black Sabbath (or rather, the tasteless Iommi and an ever-changing carousel of fools, because he knew no one in their right mind would ever buy a Tony Iommi solo joint) soldiered on, playing to smaller and smaller audiences, getting rave reviews in Hit Parader (next to the brand new 1989 Uriah Heep album! And the Jon Lord and Orchestra solo album!) and nowhere else, and generally sullying the good name of the band for good in the eyes of those who had to live through it. I mean, I used to think Black Sabbath sucked ass because all I ever heard were there late 80's records on the local AM metal station (Z-Rock! With...'The Beeezer!'). But then I somehow caught 'War Pigs' and 'Sweet Leaf' on a good programming day, and all was off to the races. Don't let the last 20 years fool you, this band is great when you give it a chance. Not great like the Beatles, but, well, great like Black Sabbath. There's quite a few people that can't get over the stupidity and slow reaction times of this group, but for every one of them, there's a big fan that wishes everything could have that sort of guitar tone.

 I'll be dealing with those 80's and 90's albums in good time, but let's not get ourselves confused. Anything after about 1982 is going to flat out suck, I'll tell you that right now. And some of the stuff before that isn't too hot. But there's some killer material in them grooves, so let's head to the hills and, erm...shake it like the Iron Man.

Black Sabbath - Warner Brothers 1969

Black Sabbath still in their bluesier mode, meaning they aren't really that heavy yet, and a lot of the songs hold on to the 12 bar form like a pair of squeaky training wheels on a 6-year-old's bicycle. The band's influences are pretty obvious (Tony did play for the fledgling Jethro Tull a few years before, you know, and everyone loved Cream in 1969.) And though it seems they're trying their damndest to rock the shit right out of your sewer system, they just don't seem to kick it at all as hard as they would be in just a few more years. For blues, this stuff sucks ass, Led Zeppelin and the Jeff Beck Group (not to mention Cream) had it all over these guys, but apparently they were already on their way to Heavy Metalsville, stopping just for a quick pee and a soda at Heavy Blues Junction while riding down the Riff Basher Highway on their Acid Rock motorbike and eating their Groupie Chips...okay, that's enough. But do you understand? So many other groups were doing music that sounded like this in 1969, though just slightly less bottom-loaded and fuzzed out as the Sabs did it.

But that doesn't take into account the creep-factor of the damned thing. Take the opening track, which is a certified heavy metal masterpiece and plays all like a gothic horror movie when the monster first appears in front of the lone traveller...just three notes, but fit to scare the bejeezus out of you if your mind is in the right state. And later on, when Ozzy changes characters from the Huge Laughing Narrator Lord to the Cowering Damned Man ('OH NO PLEASE GOD HELP ME!' yelped like someone who just woke up during their own brain surgery), the stuff is just mad good. Just madly so. But that's not all...then the song goes into this huge long fast solo part that just soars.And later on in the album, we get the line 'My name is Lucifer, please take my hand' on 'N.I.B.' (meaning 'Nativity in Black', not 'Not In my Butt') so's you know we're not out of the playground quite yet. 'The Wizard' is a lot more of a joke, a bright (for these guys) blues song about Doug Henning. Okay, not really, but it would be pretty fucking funny if he were the wizard they'd had in mind. This is also the first time Ozzy does his 'sing along with the guitar melody' thing he'd have a hard time not doing on later albums. Need more explanation? Okay.You know 'Iron Man', right? Well the riff goes 'duuh duuh duh duh duh duh? dweedle dweedle dweelde duh duh duhhh duhhh', right? And Ozzy says 'I Am I-ron Man Doing Ev-ry thing that I-ron can' or whatever. He does it exactly along to the guitar melody line. And he would continue to do this for a long time.

Okay, anyway, this album only has five songs on it, so, you guessed it right, Charlie Brown....we've got multi-part suites here. The third song is called 'Wasp/Behind The Wall Of Sleep/Bassically/N.I.B.'...*wheeze!* I'm not sure why they crammed the two vocal tunes, 'Sleep' and 'N.I.B.' in the same track like that, being that it doesn't seeem like the beaty, triumphant-sounding 'Sleep' and the midnight-dark 'N.I.B.' much go together, but I guess there's a short, useless bass solo to bridge the two as a transistion. Geezer Butler might be good for Sabbath, but this solo sounds like one of the less-interesting filler song bass parts of Mr. John Entwistle. And I don't even know what the fuck 'The Wasp' is. It's like they just put another title on there to get more royalties or something. The second huge suite, 'A Bit Of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning' gives us the first taste of the Black Sabbath Love Scene In a Slasher Flick Ballad (which you will also be hearing a lot more of), where Iommi plays some quiet acoustic guitar for a minute before we go off into a dumb song with a dumb riff and an endless guitar solo that just wanks all over itself for 10 minutes. The end of this album is hard 'n' heavy, but I also think it's some of the only early Black Sabbath music to actually fit the 'dumb' charge.

This album is frustratingly unfocused and dependent on blues trappings, but it points a good bit of finger to the future of the band as a world beater heavy metal titan. There's two good ones on here, and I supposed the more gullible of you may enjoy 'The Wizard' a lot more than I do. And even the bad songs have excellent passages in them, so I never truly get bored. It's also their most out-and-out 'evil' record for quite some time, so you Silly Church of Satanists, dig right in. It's not called Black Sabbath for nuttin!

Capn's Final Word: Close to metal, but not there yet. Steps in a lot of the same bad holes as all late 60's heavy rock does...songs are too long, it's hard to get real excited about the flashy parts, but it's sure not bad.

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I read in a magazine (I think it was Guitar Player, or was that Guitar World?) that N.I.B. is actually a joke about Bill Ward's beard (which is pointy, or "nibbish") and doesn't stand for anything.  Just more of people misconstruing what Sabbath stood for - If anyone with half a brain really pays attention to the lyrics on "After Forever" (I just made an oxymoron) they'll see it advocates Christianity.  Hell, Led Zeppelin is more satanic than Sabbath - the Sab Four never did a line like "Soul of a woman was created below."

Greg Muir              Your Rating: A

Any Short Comments?:     I'm surprised that Black Sabbath got such a bad rap from you. That first album was actually quite amazing. Out of their entire Ozzy-based oeuvre, the first two albums are the absolute bar none best. After that, they still had some good songs but the complexity started to slip. Once Ozzy left things basically fell apart. That tends to

be the trend with all bands: when they're young, they have ideas and energy, pent up from and just waiting to burst forth in a debut album. After years of touring, boozing and whoring, the vitality is leeched out and the subsequent albums could be subtitled "Because we needed the money."

 As with all things, your mileage may vary but damn, I never thought that any Sabbath fan would have something bad to say about the solos on the first album.

Clarky     Your Rating: B

Any Short Comments?:     I first heard this album when I was about 15 in the early 70s and the first track scared me shitless! - I bought it on a rainy day - I'd already had Volume 4 and SBS and couln't believe it was Ozzy singing. My favourite track is `warning' because I love Iommi's blistering solo. I have the version with the cover of `evil woman don't play your games with me' on it. 30 years later I still love this album 

 Andrew     Your Rating: A+

Any Short Comments?:      So what, it's blues? It was their roots. The thing is (with the exception of SBS & Sabotage) it's probably Sabbath's best record. A wondefully unpredictable, spontaneous, majestic "jam 
session". Their chemistry as a band, a unique one, is simply breathtaking.

 Tom(mi)    Your Rating: B-
Any Short Comments?: Mommy, please make the bad Capn stop

Jay     Your Rating: B-
Any Short Comments?: The first,but not the best.  The title track is pure evil while NIB has the sickest bass riff EVER.  However,the rest of the album isn't all that.  Things get better though.


Zwie     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: A great album; great moods, atmosphere, very good guitar sound, great compositions and lyrics. The solos in Warning are quite suspended in the air, they don't need to be in tune with anything, yet they are pleasant to hear. I like the alternatio between clean and distorsion, something they would continue doing, but hearable in "Sjeeping Village" here. What else.. why is "Behind the Wall of Sleep" not entitled "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" ? I always thought it was a Lovecraft tribute. Good simple dark heavy blues rock played with passion, nothing comes in comparison except maybe Scorpions' Lonesome Crow.


Paranoid - Warner Brothers 1970

Taking the themes of the first album and doing away with most of the stupid blues stuff helped this album become a huge British hit and helped it top about every metal magazine's Best Metal Albums of All Time list ever made, but I dunno if it's that good. They tackle real human issues for once, like war on 'War Pigs' (wherein Ozzy rhymes the amazing featured couplet 'generals gathered in their masses/just like witches at black masses'....BRILLIANT!!!! Now, if only I could find someone to rhyme 'change' and 'rearrange' for me, I could die a happy soul), insanity on 'Paranoid', and drugs on 'Hand Of Doom', and maybe that adds to the oppressiveness of the thing, but they're back to horoscope-page trick-or-treat nonsense on 'Iron Man' (about a big robot who 'kills the people he once saved'...didn't I have a Marvel comic like that once?) and I think the subject of 'Fairies Wear Boots' is painfully obvious. So you've got this totally whacked out Seventies Eight Is Enough camp/serious thing going on here which is either going to annoy you to all fuck or get under your skin like a Kiss album. Or, like me, you can just shut down and listen to the music, which is one fine way to live your life on this planet.

My favorite song on here, and probably my favorite Sabbath song ever, is the speedway boogie of 'Paranoid', what with the pinched power chords chugging, the frigged up tone of the ring modulated guitar solo, and Ozzy playing it all off like he's a nut. A classic of the metal genre. I also dig 'War Pigs' to all get out, especially the drawn-out instrumental section at the end, which not only sounds good, it also sounds seriously thought out....and you thought these guys were dumb? So 'Planet Caravan' goes a long way to proving they are, it's no worse than a Red Hot Chili Peppers ballad (like the seriously overrated 'Under The Bridge'), and the vocals-strained-through-a-water-bong-filter effect is hilarious. Or not really hilarious, but, you know, amusing. 'Iron Man' definitely has one of the dumbest classic riffs in the whole rock genre, far dumber than 'Smoke On The Water', I mean, it's quarter notes! Well, shit, I'm not gonna say this song isn't goodie gumdrops, but you just feel yourself getting dumber listening to it. You know, someone had to write this song, and I'm glad Sabbath did. If they hadn't, it might've come from John Denver. The muse is a strange girl, you know. 'Electric Funeral' is like a slower, less interesting 'Iron Man', there's the dumbest drum solo track since 'Toad' with 'Rat Salad', and 'Fairies Wear Boots' is pretty complicated and has some cool fret-slides on the lead line. Yeah, it's overdone, yeah, it's all pretty cartoonish, but it's effective. This is where the real Black Sabbath makes its instroduction, and if nothing else, this band is reliable for its ability to rock your tonsils right outta your throat.

Capn's Final Word: Dumb but stripped down. 'War Pigs' and 'Paranoid' are worthy additions to the Big Book of Basic Headbanging.

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Matt     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: The song Paranoid is not very good in its original version. Only live, especially with Ozzy and Brad Gillis on guitar, did it really become heavy metal. Hand of Doom is probably the masterpiece of this album, followed closely by War Pigs and its outro (but it's hard to tell now that it's been played to death). Planet Caravan is a nice experiment. Fairies Wear Boots has interesting lyrics, one wouldn't know it's about skinheads, it would be easy to think it's just about being stoned and having hallucinations.


Sam     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: The album that got me into metal... when I heard the RIFF of Iron Man, the doors came down... and then the riffage continued... and continued... wow.


Master of Reality - Warner Brothers 1971

A concept album to all things Sabbath, based around Iommi's new toy, the detuned guitar. Heavier than just about anything you've ever heard, his guitar tone on this record is simply breathtaking in its ability to strike you in your very skeleton. Songs morph and change, or should I say evolve, in a way that has a physiological effect on the body of the listener. It's lacking in the glorious hooks of songs like 'Iron Man', but more than makes up for it in bulk and brute force. It ain't light on its feet, but man, if this doesn't put you in the mood to bang your head and hit off the pipe before Biology class, you've got no rock 'n' roll in your soul. And soul is all over this record, since it's themes deal quite literally with what will happen to you after your death. I mean, these guys aren't Satanists at all! They're concerned about your eternal soul! A bunch of potheads see Jesus in a lava lamp and go and get all concerned for us. 'After Tomorrow' might have the line 'would you like to see the Pope on a rope/do you think he's a fool?' but if you continue to listen through, you'll realise they're trying to persuade you to seek a higher force in your life! That's, like, so weird of a bunch of guys who recorded 'Black Sabbath' just two years prior. The heavy riffage doesn't help the message get through, but that's exactly what they're getting at. I'm not sure how I feel about Black Sabbath preaching at me, especially being the non-believer I am, but I guess this could fend off your parents the next time they try to hide your Sab records. Just read 'em a passage off 'After Tomorrow' and watch their PMRC butts just shrivel back to the kitchen. Rock 'n' roll rules, doesn't it?

So the rest of the album is pretty undifferentiated compared to the first two songs, but it doesn't mean it doesn't still rule. It's just a nice paid tour through the architecture of a heavily distorted riff, more or less. Or undistorted/pretty acoustic sex scene interludes like 'Orchid' or 'Solitude', which is probably Sabbath at its very prettiest. I'm not at all clear on what differentiates 'Lord Of This World' and 'Children of the Grave', but I guess that's part of the point., and both of those songs are winners in my book. It's not a 'schtick' like it could be, it's artistically exploring the heaviness of metal, and it's a damned excellent piece of work. This album makes the house shake and your brain dope, and I think if you've ever cared anything about heavy metal music, you'll love this record too.

Capn's Final Word: Using Marshall stacks for experimental psychology. A dream excursion through the land of the Sabs, and one that won't let you down.

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Matt     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Now, Children of the Grave is a masterpiece. The beginning percussions, doubled by bass, have something addictive, yet simple.  The acoustic interludes offer contrast.. Lord of this World sounds a lot like Deep Purple's Shadows, recorded 3 years earlier.. Iommi's contemporaneous influences start to show. Listening to "Into the Void" feels like putting dirt in your mouth when you're a kid, and it feels good. The intro to Sweet Leaf is perhaps the cheesiest thing ever recorded.. like half a second of coughing copied over and over again.. sounding more like a robot than a human. After Forever takes the piss off trendy Satanists without preaching whatsoever. Too unconventional even today.

Divyang     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Sweet Leaf introduced me to Black Sabbath and was in fact the first Heavy metal song I listened to you.I did not get used to the sound(c'mon,how can a body who has never heard Heavy Metal and gets Sweet Leaf served hot get used to it?) for like..about 3 months and then I heard the song again ,and dammit all, it hit me with the force of a sledgehammer.I can't listen to Black Sabbath at a high volume in the house.If I did I would get slaughtered(not for religious reasons,atheists all here but nobody can take it, except for me).But listening at a low volume makes me love the songs even more.Bill Ward does some great percussion work on this album.He is underrated.How can a unimaginative straightforward drummer like John Bonham get praised so much while Bill Ward is .......Oh well,Whatever,nevermind.

Sam     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Yeah, spot on. A heavy riffing classic. All bands wish they could have that guitar tone, or write riffs this good. Not a bad track on here.


Sam     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Hell yeah. Riffage from the god that is Iommi that will floor you. Essential headbanging material. No real experimentation here, maybe a few melancholy acoustic bits, but overall a riff album, and what fucking riffs. Rivals Sabotage as their best.


Mike     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Cough...Cough...Cough...Cough...

Then the heaviest thing in existence crushed my skull and strangely made me glad for it. That thing being Tony Iommi's guitar tone on this record.

You want sludge? You got it. Well, "Vol. 4" was sludgier, but that was unhealthily sludgy - c'mon, "Cornucopia" should come with a Biohazard sticker attached. Everything here is more deadly, more focused, and heavier than anything they'd ever do again - and still, it retained enough unique Sabbathisms for it to be totally unique. The pot romance of "Sweet Leaf," the lobotomized-yet-inspiring Christianity of "After Forever," the fucking timbales (!?!?!!!) on "Children of the Grave," the jackbooted giants' trudge that is "Lord Of This World," the acoustic prettiness of the short instrumentals, which are then coupled with lovelorn yearning on "Solitude," and the beyond-belief heaviness and brilliance of "Into The Void." 34 minutes of pot-suffused sludge that's heavy enough to give you brain damage and yet positive enough to make you feel like the world can be redeemed if we all just band together as humans. It doesn't seem possible that these things could coexist, but Sabbath made it happen. This is a brilliant record.


Black Sabbath Vol. 4 - Warner Brothers 1972

Black Sabbath were running on all kinds of adrenaline (and coke) during this period of their career, were pretty much unable to stop touring, and it becomes clear on Vol. 4 that they're getting ever so worn out. What could've been an improvement on any of their previous albums, combining the bulldozer heaviness of Master and the hooks of Paranoid, but it didn't quite turn out to be. More or less it's just More Sab, which is a good bunch of cheese in and of itself. It's still mighty heavy, but not quite as trance inducing as last time, more of a middle-of-the-road Sabbath heaviness, and they try their darndest to squeeze out the hooks, but it just doesn't happen like it should for these guys. What I loved so much about Master was that it pulled no punches, and said straight out - 'Here's a bunch of samey-sounding grunge fuzz busters that will kill yo' mama if she gets too close to the turntable. And it's gonna be SLOW!' while this one just sorta lies there and tries to act as much like Sabbath as it can. And if that isn't enough, there's a few things that absolutely blow chunks on here. 'Conucopia' is sludgier than a septic tank, which is a shame 'cos this song coulda been a real classic had it been a bit more clearly recorded. The echoplex intro 'FX' is just a waste of tape, considering it sounds just like some crap loop picked up off the studio floor and fed into the master recording as some sort of joke.

So, besides that, the rest of this album more or less cooks. Albeit cooking in a way that's just a little south of Master cooking. 'Wheels Of Confusion' sounds like the march of the Mud Beasts, and it's probably the first really bombastic Sab song in a long time. Is that guitar out of tune or what? Maybe if he'd done a bit better job working with the tuning fork, this album would be an A. Or not, 'cos I'm not all that convinced of that song's extended section with the synth-y sounding part and all the sludge. Now 'Tomorrow's Dream' makes up for whatever prog intentions they had on the first track, and this song has the momentum to force through whatever barriers you might've put up in your own brain. It's fuzzed out as all frig, and I get visions of a mastadon charging through a minefield when I hear it. I also think of an elephant when I hear the lyrics of 'Changes', but this time I'm thinking of what a lunkhead whoever was that penned these sorts of Sesame Street limp-wristed rhymes, but the music, I'll admit, is pretty, but then again you could just play C chords over and over on a piano and a Mellotron and I'd say it was pretty. Hey! That's pretty much what they did on 'Changes'! 

Now 'Supernaut' is fucking cool...and fast, and uncontrolled, and the riff is complicated, and WHEE! Whatever follows that had better rock or we're in trouble, and 'Snowblind' does a good job trying to fit the bill, but this slow riff I feel like I've heard before, and this is just their 4th record. Cheap dickless Cheneys! And now our mastadon's in mortal trouble....he's stuck in a tar pit with a bunch of Moonie sabre-toothed marmots and he's struggling... .free...himself...from. ..this...slow...ass... .rifffffff.....And he's gone. Man, 'Cornucopia's' definitely one of the worst heavy songs of their early existence, but I guess it goes without saying that it's still miles beyond anything they did in the late 80's. Does the word 'shitfest' mean anything to you? To your mom? Your pastor? Well, it should, because Black Sabbath '86 defines it.

Oh, the rest of the album is just more of that jawbreaking 18-wheeled Sabbath, and you should know more or less what to expect by now. This album is a disappointment in a small way, but still meets its goals, which is to make you feel like you've just downed a few hundred Tylenol 3's and have decided to have a little trip across the country on your mattress. There's a reason so many early 70's teenaged boys loved this shit on earphones so much....and it still holds up today.

Capn's Final Word: God, sludgier and less focused than ever. Still the group of choice for destroying small villages at 600 meters, though.

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Sam      Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: This album has a few slightly weak tracks which prevent it from getting an A+, but otherwise this is one of the best rock albums anyone can buy. An absolute drug-whacked, sun-drenched, tripped out monster of a record, packed with classic riffs and songs-highlights for me are Wheels of Confusion, Supernaut, Snowblind and St. Vitus' Dance. You can almost see the clouds of cocaine that
hang around this record, such is the unfocused, tripped-out feeling you get from it. Better than the entire Zeppelin back catalogue. Fantastic stuff.


Matt     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: Doesn't sound as fresh as what they did before.. Sounds like a formula, trying to put this and this kind of song here and there.. Snowblind is however a great song. Ozzy's voice doesn't sound as good, too nasal. Stuff like FX wouldn't age well, but I wonder how it was at the time. Changes should never have been. Supernaut sounds refreshing, it shows that Iommi was starting to get into stuff like Queen.


Live at Last - Nems 1980

Dreadfully sludgy and dead fuckingly slow live set from circa this era. There's nothin' on it from later than Vol. 4, whose tracks seem to be the featured bunny rabbits on this British import album released in 1980. All the usuals are on here, your 'Ironing Man', your 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Battle Porkers' (which goes on forever, and is so out of tune it sounds like the entire Who wall of sound going up in flames), your 'Pair of Nards'  your 'Children Of The Grave', but also 'Snowblind' and 'Cornucopia', and, of all things, 'Wicked World' (which is forever-er than 'War Pigs', what the hell can you do to stretch a Sabbath song out to almost 19 long minutes? I'm not sure 'cos I fell asleep before it was over, honestly. So, what did I hear in my early fever dreams? A drum solo? Probably. A call-and-response? Ooh, how quaint. Could be. Counting to 1000 and back again? A New York Jets football game from 1972 in its entirety? Oh, yes. Assuredly so.)

They sure try their best to come off like the Sabbath they're supposed to be, but maybe this is an off night or somesuch, because there ain't a whole lotta energy coursing through Tony, Oz, Geez, and...wait, I always forget this drummer's name....oh yeah, Bill 'Montgomery' Ward at, erm...whenever this was recorded. There's so little information known about this record that it's like a KGB secret, but it is the only album released during Black Sabbath's painfully short 'golden month' when they'd figured out how to not suck and hadn't screwed with the formula enough to screw it up. They do try their best, though, what with the tempos and the rudimentary solos by Iommi that prove he's a studio guy. Put him in front of an audience and he's about as good a soloist as Neil Young without feedback. But c'mon, only completists need to subject themselves to substandard live versions of tunes that were already grungy and dirty and Midas muffly enough already. Or you yourself could just go out and buy a Marshall stack, jab rakes through the speaker cones, piss on the power amp, and run your out-of-tune Gibson SG through there at full-dial for 40 minutes. But you wouldn't get that totally icky cover of my 7th grade locker-mates forehead like on the cover there. God, I know you Sabbath heads have it already, but for Christ's sake, no one else buy this unless it's cheap or you get a hard on whenever Ozzy implores you to 'put your hands together'.

Capn's Final Word:  Just goes to show that not all 70's 'original lineup' live albums are worth a damn. Buy it for $4 on cassette. You won't miss the CD fidelity.

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Jack Feeny
Any Short Comments?: Hey Ryan, I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say the Live at Last concert has very recently been remastered (this very month, I believe) with proper sound quality. It now comes with an extra CD (and a free plectrum, for some reason) and is retitled Past Lives. I don't actually own it but having heard it I don't think it is as poor as you describe (perhaps due to the remastering). It isn't particularly spectacular either, though.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - Warner Brothers 1973

Sabbath begin fucking with the formula, and we all know what starts a band fucking with the formula. They start reading the press, and start listening to all these people telling them 'this whole metal Demon Lord thing is all everyone wants to hear synthesizer and prog music. And hang out with Rick Wakeman, who is such a little cutie!' Luckily, the band, for the most part, expands themselves without screwing up too badly. This could have been a real shitstorm, and it helps to remember that while listening, for it's not at all as good as the previous albums either. You see, the band (according to some sources) finally got some more artistic control over such concerns as the album cover (cool and creepy), the lyrical content (same ol' same ol') and the music (just wait...). On one hand, it starts out convincingly. For a while you think they've maybe finally tightened themselves back down again after the sloppy-but-fun Vol. 4. The title track is a perfect synthesis of the Master-esque detuned riffing and little light insertions that break up the iceflow into much more easily digested pieces. There's even a totally different, fast riff that comes in just for the ending! That's like, shit, 14 or 15 different melodies in the same song! That's a record not even Gentle Giant or Marillion has ever beaten, and don't even try with your Barbara Streisand!!! Okay, it's actually only like 3 or 4 actually seperable parts, but that's still chocolate sundae as far as it concerns Herr Reviewer. And the 'YOU BASTARDS!!!' scream is just....well, it's just like being home with Mom. It's also the last we'll ever really hear from the Guitar Tone of God, so eat it up while it's on the menu, won't you?

Of course, that's just where the new experimentation into prog stuff works the best. It's also the biggest winner on the record, and one of the best songs they ever released and sold to lunkheaded dolts like me. The next two songs take sides in the light/dark debate instead of mixing it up like 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' did (Hell, technically that's the name of the tune, isn't it?) 'A National Acrobat' just throws in some random wah-wah and overdubs on the usual riff slime, and a little funky-chicken riff that proves four Brummies will never play for the JB's and 'Fluff' is precisely that, acoustic folky fluff with chiming harpsichords and pianos and one sensitive metalhead crying wistfully into his W.A.S.P. t-shirt over missed opportunities and fleeting lost loves. It's just this sort of wussy junk that leads first to hard drug use, then to Stonehenge stage sets, and then to appearing on VH-1 alongside Rick Springfield answering the age old question of 'Where Are They Now?' and then following it up with the more prescient 'And Who Gives A Flying Fuck About Their New Restaurant Venture?' See, like Rick Wakeman. He wouldn't be so crass as to be featured on such a show because he was savvy enough to place himself in 2002 on such a lofty pedestal as following 2 weeks behind his former band around an Easter European tour, but playing much much smaller halls. And in 1973? Well, his Keyboardness was featured on Sabbath Goddamn Sabbath, fucking well bless it! And lending great funky piano and silly synth shimmers to 'Sabbra Cadabra', and his part isn't all that controversial...but when did Sabbath themselves turn into Nazareth? This is just a blues-rock riff, like any old hard rock band does! Foghat would probably do it better! Awww, hell, have we begun losing Sabbath? Dammit, I guess a fair blues-rocker is better than a shitty metal song anyday, no matter how stinky I feel making that distinction. There's some more not-so-hard-rocking somewhat lame tracks like 'Killing Yourself To Live', about drugs, and  'Looking For Today', about your brain on drugs, but 'Who Are You' marks a return to form for Pete Townshend and crew, and triumphantly returns to the synths-and-guitars style of Barney Goes Country. Actually, it has nothing to do with electric guitars, and is a lot like setting 'FX' to lyrics but adding a digestive track-yanking proggy middle section, if you want the truth. And, dear Reader in the face of bad writing, lame attempts at humor that usually end up being weak sexist come-ons and toilet humor, the truth is all I can offer you, I'm afraid. But that's not the end of the crimes done against their former fans, oh no. Christ, seriously now, they couldn't have tried hard to sound like the Who on 'Spiral Architect', but they end up striking more in the Styx-ian region of things, I think. If you can hear through all the strings and galloping massed acoustic/electric guitars you might find that Ozzy's vocal melody is cool (if a bit too familiar, I'd say), and sheeeit, Ozzy beats the living snot out of Dennis DeYoung any day, now doesn't he?

Capn's Final Word: God, there's a live track from the Vol. 4 tour stuck on the end of this. Which sorta say how much 'artistic control' they actually wielded. The melodies make a final appearance, and there's a classic, but Sabbath has began their descent.

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Matt     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: The riff to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is very heavy and the song has very interesting lyrics. One of the best Sabbath songs. But then A National Acrobat kicks in with its sterile high-Ozzy vocals and one wonders if one didn't hit the switch to AM radio. Though we do hear some marriages of opposite in both songs : "Living just for dying, dying just for you" in SBS, then "Just remember love is life, And hate is living death" in ANA. Sabbra Caddabra reminds me of Deep Purple's Freedom. Fluff is not as interesting as Embryo or Elegy. The ending to Killing Yourself To Live is simply painful.. "killing yourself to liiiiiive" with nose pinched. Same with "Looking for today". "Who are you", on the other hand, is very good and experimental. "Spiral architect" fails to deliver a good mood despite its intro.


Sabotage - Warner Brothers 1975

The last non-embarrassing Sabbath album, and one that backs off from the silly-Sammy,-doncha-know-synths-are-for-twats? experimentation of SBS, but continuing on the retreat from the Envelope of Heaviness the band liked to push in the early 70's. I suppose a lot of this is like those blues-riff tunes in the middle of Bloody Sabbath, but (I'm thinking of 'Killing Yourself to Live' and 'Looking For Today' here)  integrated with the longer, suite-like tracks they did last time.  Stetching a song out over multiple sections just seems to go hand-in-hand with champion cocaine abuse by rock bands. At least you're not going to hear strings on Sabotage. There's one last, very very last, just for the kids, blast along the ol' heavier-than-thou path with the chugging 'Symptom Of The Universe' which has Ozzy at his most-heliumed. Oh, I didn't mention it, but Ozzy's vocal style is always compared to the effect of inhaling helium gas, and I guess folks have a point, but Ozzy mostly comes off as a pothead loser and not a fey twat like Robert Plant or that ant-dropping from Uriah Heep, a description I hold dear. And his singing on 'Symptom', where he actually sings against the rhythm a lot, is just great. This song must be the birthplace or catbox or something of The Second Generation of Metal, for the double-speed middle section almost reminds me of Iron Maiden. I mean, they still had this heavy ability stuck up their sleeve somewhere, and they just whipped it out and put it on the table every once in awhile so's you'd buy the record and sit through 'Supertzar' or whatever. That heavy, orgasm-inducing section is immediately followed by the swift acoustic Santana/Fleetwood Mac-part, which is fucking banana sherbet cool. Simply put, the Sabs got it perfectly right about once per record in the mid 70's, making for wicked potential compilation albums that never happened. And at least they got that one right, because the similarly multi-parted 'Megalomania' is slow and not nearly as dramatic as it's 9 minutes demand it to be, and only catches fire about 5 minutes through with another classic (and bluesy!) riff that unfortunately never goes anywhere other than nearby a few spins around the mellotron for the last few minutes.

I can't stand it, I know you planned it, but I gotta set it straight, these beans I ate, but I don't like Iommi's self-indulgent acoustic instrumentals very well. There's another one on here, probably his best to date ('Don't  Start (Too Late)'), but I still find it a notch or three below Page's 'White Summer/Black Mountain Side', which he's obviously trying to copy. 'The Thrill Of It All' is the name of a cool Roxy Music song that could beat the shit out of the screecher feature here which also brings the riff (another decent one, this is an album full of memorable Iommisms. No 'Iron Man's, sure, but good, solid, simple riffs) in way too late. And you may look for the coolness to come out on the overbloated instrumental blimpie sandwich of 'Supertzar', which gave a howling choral orchestra a job for a day, I suppose....but they're finally disappearing down the rabbit hole of their own prog dreams, and they're leaving their fans and their talents behind. So the synths are toned down, they're still missing the single-minded intensity of '70-'72, and even the last album was still pretty heavy in a lot of spots. Oh, shit, I'm gonna make myself a hippocrite right heah, but even as synth-driven as 'Am I Going Insane (Radio)' is, I still love the damn song. Frigging hooks'll get you every time.

Sabotage, to me, is pretty hit-and-miss. The longer tracks strike me as being too low on ideas (other than FUCKING 'SYMPTOM', baby!!!!) and, um, there aren't too many other tracks. But it's probably pretty damned diverse and there are some fine ideas knocking around here. And after this, they blew, so find the album and get it. This is pretty far from Paranoid, but that's both good and bad.

Capn's Final Word: A last gasp (or last snort?) of greatness.

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Sam  Your Rating: A

Any Short Comments?: Awesome stuff. Proof that when Sabbath experimented, they proved to be FAR better at it than Zeppelin. Proof also that they were better songwriters and had the better riffs. Very dark, angry album, not really a 70s rock one but a heavy metal one, plain and simple. First side is stunning-after Hole in the Sky blows you away, there's a chance to rest for a few seconds with the brief respite of 'Don't Start [Too Late]', which ominously builds up quietly then..... DER-DER-DER-DER-DA-DA- DA DAAAAAAAAAAAA....... Symptom of the Universe rips your speakers a new bass cone and continues to do so before ending in a groovy acoustic jam. Megalomania is an epic, and what an epic, awesome guitar work and riff, though perhaps it is a little overdone. The on side two there's the plain rock of 'Thrill of it All', the brilliantly innovative 'Supertzar', the pop ditty of 'Am I going Insane'? and then 'The Writ', another epic, awesome riffing. Really one of the great 70s albums, and though the dark atmosphere cantake some getting used to, what you're left with here is one of the great early metal albums. Very well-produced for its day too. Great stuff this,and really their last truly, truly brilliant album, though the Dio stuff's not too bad, and Born Again is OK. This album demands to be owned.

Pasepd   Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: I have to say that "The Writ" scared the shit out of me the first time I listened to it. I was sitting peacefully in my dorm with my headphones on, listening to the horrifying, demented laughter/screaming that ends ⌠Insane and runs into this song. Creeped out by that, I was soothed by the hypnotic, ripply bassline that comes after. Drifting into a quiet, serene trance, I almost reached Nirvana (the mental state, not those dorks from Seattle) before I was nearly startled to death by Ozzy's unexpected ⌠THE WAY I FEEL IS THE WAY I AM This albums rules. Go prog-metal! "Megalomania" and "Symptom" are the best songs on here.

Matt     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: Symptom of the Universe and Hole in the Sky save this album. "Don't start too late" is probably their best post-Master of Reality instrumental.  In Megalomania, there is one "obsessed" too much, and it's way too long. Supertzar shouldn't have been on any album, even as an opener for the shows it was too cheesy (but surely doesn't beat Carmina Burana). Am I Going Insane is as refreshing as Supernaut, but one gets tired very quick. The Writ simpluy sucks. The Thrill Of It All happens to be catchy.


Jon     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: This album rarely found its way off of my turntable during the last couple months of my year in 8th grade in 1985, In the age of Prince, Duran Duran and the atrocious preppy melodicisms
squeaked out by the likes of Hooters, etc, this album in all its sludge ladened glory oozed from my speakers like livestock's blood from a slaughterhouse every day and night, Symptom of the Universe was my #1 song during
those times and remains my Favorite Sabbath tune to this day, My Mom would frequently tell my Dad that she would go nuts the next time she heard it LOL, This whole album rocked in all its underproduced and
scraping grittiness in a disgusting state of music trends known otherwise as 80s "Rock"  

Technical Ecstasy - Warner Brothers 1976

Still the same guys, and they probably intended to continue what had happened on Sabotage (you know, prog/metal hybrid, lots of textures, groupie sex), but here the load is lightened way too darn much. The main symptom of the universe I see is a dropoff in riff quality, and while the music itself isn't muddy, the message sure is. Is this album supposed to rock? Is it progressive? What's the message, dear Sirs? I personally get a lot of confusion going into this record after Sabotage. It starts out like Brando on 'Back Street Kids' and the extended 'You Won't Change Me', but then turns all Keanu Reeves on the wimpoid 'It's Alright' (sung not by Ozzy, but presumably by Bill, who has about as much vocal personality as a strip of vinyl siding) and Bjorn Borg on the disco-ey 'Gispy'. Now, I never have seen Bjorn Borg play and know little about the man, but I also have never seen a Sabbath disco song. I just don't know how to take it. My brain doesn't scream out 'FOUL!!!!' or anything like that, but it really that hard just to keep on doing what they had been? Things get worse on 'Rock 'n' Roll Doctor' and the freakishly soft 'She's Gone', proving that the farther Sabbath get from their metal (and prog-metal) roots, the more they fall flat on their faces. Diverse they're not, and their boundaries of goodness are pretty clearly defined, I'd say. On a good album (say, Sabotage), you're pretty safe when they play in their own playground. Here it's more dangerous. 'Dirty Women' is just a faint echo of previous glories, but its the closest thing the album has to glory. Call it a lack of glory, a Glory Gap. A Glory Hole, if you will. They get all raunchy on 'Dirty Women', but they never get airborne until the solo sections as the end, where Iommi proves he's been practicing his scales since the lame solo efforts on Live at Last.

Capn's Final Word: A weak effort from this quartet, but be very surprised how good it sounds in comparison to later incarnations of the band. Fails at almost everything it tries. When it doesn't try, it's better.

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Matt      Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: This is a different era of Black Sabbath. They seemed to have stopped caring about their fans then, and were trying anything new. I like this album very much, especially "It's alright", a third-rate Beatles song without Ozzy. Rock'N'Roll Doctor and Dirty Women could have been saved and sent to David Coverdale, however. Back Street Kid is however bad taste; while You won't change me too Ozziesque. Gypsy was already the title of a Deep Purple song recorded 2 years ago. Not the last time it would happen.. Funny too how "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)" predates "HE's a woman she's a man" by Scorpions. She's Gone is much better than Changes.


Never Say Die! - Warner Brothers 1978

Ozzy's last with Sabbath (he actually quit the band in 1977, the band went on tour without him, and then convinced him to return for this record...he was then fired. Too many drugs, you know.) is no return to form after Testical Agony, but rather a sort of Sabbath copy of Led Zeppelin's Presence. As Page did on that record, Iommi replaces real riffs with lots of strummed chord sequences mixed with rudimentary lead lines, so while TE at least had a riff or two, this one just grinds on unfiltered by the long-term memory circuits of your brain. It's as if they've gotten so wrapped up in their quest to make their songs more complex and give them all a bunch of parts that the parts don't even mean very much any more. The title track is more basic, but like, there's more parts to the overblown 'Johnny Blade' than there are on the entire Master of Reality record! We need focus! We need easily discernable and processible musical ideas, not more of this cock-rock Zeppelin bloat. I suppose they hit the 'heavy' button a bit better than they did on Ecchstasy (as the ever clever Mad Magazine would say it....God, I used to love Mad), and I can say that Bill Ward does a good job getting his drums to sound hefty and funky, especially on 'Junior's Eyes', which is my favorite track on here. A funky drum song that lives and dies by its backbeat and popping bassline, with a ripping chorus that bears nearly NO resemblance to heavy metal music? Oh yeah, I think this song kicks ass. It's like a Seventies version of Ozzy's solo ain't no 'Paranoid', for Chrissakes, but like a simpler 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' on Presence (or, probably more accurately, a much better 'Hots On For Nowhere'), this song holds its own in an endless sea of detritus. 'Hard Road' is just a reprieve. You know the shit is on its way, and it's like it's creeping in, pooling under the door, and slowly making its way towards your feet. The shit. It's coming.....

Oh God, then the album makes a turn south that even you, with your I Love Ozzy bumper sticker, may not have anticipated. There's so little to recommend 'Shock Wave' and its million parts, or the totally bogus 'Air Dance' (both of which use the exact same drum beat) and the turgid and painfully slow 'Over To You', that even the absolutely bizarre jazz-ified instrumental 'Break Out' (and I hear it's allegedly not about Geezer's dose of the clap) featuring horns and a saxophone solo (I'm not lying. My lips may be moving, and you may not believe what's coming outta my mouth, but a liar I am not. A dirty perv, yeah. A person who double dips at social occasions, yeah. Who pees on the seat at highway rest stops, yeah. But lying about a Sabbath instrumental most of you will never hear? Never.)

Hey you! Don't not buy this album quite yet! You haven't heard about the Ward-sung 'Swinging the Chain' yet! And how it's got a harmonica solo and a riff that's so bad they covered it in echo and....hey!!!! Where are you going?!?!? You aren't wussing out on me already, are you? Hold ON A GODDAMNED SECOND!!!! WAIT!!!! WE STILL HAVE 12 MORE R-r-r--r-r-r-r-ockin' Sabbath Records TO GO!!!! Stop!


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Pasepd    Your Rating: C+
Any Short Comments?: I agree that this album is just C+ quality. It only has two songs that actually move me at all, and the content of their former albums dwarfs it completely, but it still deserves recognition. These two songs are "Johnny Blade" and "Junior's Eyes," tracks 2 and 3, respectively (they run together quite nicely, too, if I may say). "Johnny Blade," is multi-part and really good! Oh how I LOVE the beginning of the second part of the song (right after Ozzy chants "Jooohn-neee Blaaaade!" four times in a row). That riff is simply addicting. Man, Tony is a monster of a guitar player! The only thing that the song could probably do without are those nerdy-sounding synthesizers, but maybe those actually add to it. I really can't tell. Regardless, "Johnny Blade" is the best track. I like "Junior's Eyes" because of the chorus. Every time the song goes back to the chorus it moves me to tears alomost (err, did I just say that out loud?). The bass is also really good, too!. The rest of the album ranges from just OK to not-so-OK. I find it really neat that Bill Ward sings. How unexpected! He's no Ozzy, though (I mean, when it comes to overall personality and uniqueness). Looking ahead to most of the stuff this band would make throughout the 80s and early 90s, I'd take this album any day! But it's still just a C+. And farewell, Ozzy! Don't you worry. Your entire solo career will be reviewed by a major WRC site some day I'm sure!

Matt     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: The song "Never Say Die" was later covered by Iron Maiden but its title was changed to "Die with your boots on". But it's a good heavy rock'n'roll song. The rest of the album is excellent.. very weird disco-mixed Sabbath rock. "A hard road" is yet another Deep Purple title. "Shock Wave" was a good idea, but went wrong somewhere. "Swinging the Chain" is my second favorite on this album, after the title track.


Heaven and Hell - Warner Brothers 1980

After Sir Osbourne was dropped from the band, seemingly lost to the world in a haze of addiction for all times (oh what a hearty chuckle he must've had when he found out which one of them it was that actually sucked balls...and then signed his multimillion dollar Osbournes contract. Damn, their pets are funny. And I'm a frigging dumbass.) the rest of Sabbath soldiered ever onward into the morass of Eighties metal. Okay, so Tony Iommi is in charge of the music/reputation/darkness department, and apparently Geezer is still involved somehow in the lyric writing, but do you think maybe you're going to hear echoes of Da Glory Daze with the soul of the band lost back somewhere in 1974? Hell no. You're going to get Half Sabbath, I'm afraid, and that's about what Heaven and Hell is all about. The replacement is not necessarily the scum of the earth: former Elf and Rainbow man Ronnie James Dio has craploads of heavy metal personality in his voice. And what I mean by the ever so clever 'heavy metal personality' in that last sentence is that he growls and howls and vibrates and hits high notes and generally chews the scenery...boring he's not, like Ozzy sometimes was. Cheesy he is, unlike the Oz. Tall, not. Obsessed with dragons and swords of fire? You bet. A mean Cajun chef? Absolutely. A devout Christian? Yes. Just kidding. So having Ronnie James Reagan front your band is sorta a good thing, he's like the journeyman quarterback who wasn't ever gonna take you to the playoffs, but he wouldn't screw everything up and get your team run out of town by a mob bearing torches and pitchforks, either.

This album stops the weird experimentation that's been going on more or less since 1973 cold in its tracks, but yet doesn't return to what we all wish it would return to either. This is simply heavy metal music - basic, rote chord changes, lots of Ronnie going ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh, the album's gonna seem real familiar even the first time you put it on. There sure as hell ain't no saxophone on this one, believe you me David Brinkley! But there's also a distinct lack of personality that's a real bummer. One source of the problem is Mr. Dio, who everyone likes to characterize as a little D&D fanatic, who populates his songs with daring wizards and creepy crawlies and loose-moralled maidens waiting to be conquered. So maybe it's a short man's dream...hey Hitler, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Danny DeVito, he's got good megalomaniacal precedents. And I'll take issue that all the songs are about ghouls and goblins and Satan and magic and crap, because they're not (I looked at the lyric sheet so you did't have to. How nice is that?), but they sound like they are. Dio sounds like the kind of guy who would be talking about this stuff. 30 years of heavy metal music have trained us that whenever you hear a vibrato on a heavy song, you automatically hear fantasy lyrics coming out of the speakers, even when he's talking about, I dunno, street crime or something.  With Ozzy, you never knew...maybe it's a predjudice, and I actually like Dio, but put him together with Sabbath (or, rather, Iommi and Geezer and Appice) and the parts don't equal what they should.

A few of the songs are a bit funkier or have more or less synth backing, Iommi's solos are consistently good, and there's your heavenly intros and stuff, but the whole album seems like rewrites of the same mediocre song. I like the fast opener 'Neon Knights', 'Children of the Sun', and a few others okay, but those are very much arbitrary picks. There's very little on Heaven and Hell that rises above the metal morass and makes itself known. Instead of focusing on writing good new material, they're obviously trying not to write bad ones, and they don't, though the incessant 'die young die young die young' on 'Die Young' comes pretty fucking close. They just end up with a bunch of semi-boring, interchangeable, generic heavy metal. They don't thrash anymore, they don't poke around into prog-metal, they just write basic, sub-Rainbow hard music, that's all. If you're addicted to Iommi's guitar or are a big Dio fan, dig it and get it, but others among us have Judas Priest and Motorhead albums out there waiting for us.

Capn's Final Word: Sabbath loses two members and it's reason for existence. By avoiding badness they fail to reach goodness.

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Matt     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: A breath of fresh air.. A totally new band. Nothing to do with Black Sabbath mark I. This is like a heavier Rainbow. "Neon Knights" is about the same speed and structure as "Kill the King".  "Heaven and Hell" has a very simple riff, dubbed mostly after Luke's Wall (War Pig's outro) but yet works very well. The song is built like Kashmir/Stargazer; and it influenced Queensryche's Road to Madness and countless others to come, some by Black Sabbath. I also like the pop songs like Wishing Well and Lady Evil. Die Young's intro is a good use of synthetiser in hard rock. Very good and yet sounds like 80s.


RC Merchant     Your Rating: D-
Any Short Comments?: There is no heaven in this hell.What I'm trying to say is...Dio is lame.Of course so was Rainbow.Is he any relation to that geek from Quiet Riot?


Mob Rules - Warner Brothers 1981

Um....the same album as Heaven and Hell. Slightly harder-edged I guess, and there's a few better riffs on it (like 'Sign Of The Southern Cross'), but everything I said about the previous one applies to this one as well. Not a bad album, and the last halfway okay Sabbath studio album for a decade. Sorry to be all brief and everything on this review, but what else can one say about a record that sounds just like its predecessor? Plus, I have a whole 'nother MP3 disc of Sabbath albums yet to cover, and I know they're all gonna suck, so I've gotta tighten my belt, purge my intestines, and get working on it. You really can't go wrong with this record if you aren't looking for such pesky things as originality, inspiration, or real power.

Capn's Final Word:  Still Dio Sabbath.

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Matt     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Two fast and hard-riffed songs on this one. "Turn up the night" is very good.. The ballads are great without being cheesy. The pop songs have edge.


Live Evil - Warner Brothers 1982

AA-ah-ahhha-AH-AHHH-AHHHH-ahaa-AHHH!!!!! Dio sings Ozzy tunes live and doesn't embarrass either himself or the band. Actually, he's able to do everything he does in the studio live, which is pretty impressive. If you're a Dio fan whatsoever you really need to hear him do 'N.I.B.' and 'Iron Man'. He totally masters the Ozzy songs in his own overblown operatic dwarf style, and makes them his. Cool stuff. Iommi sounds great, the singalong part on 'Mob Rules' is a hilarious failure, and this is a great way to hear the band in their last beefy lineup for a long time. I doubt the '87 band sounded anything close to this live. Lots of H&H/Mob Rules songs that sound better than they did on the album because Iommi pulls off his mesmerizing modal solos off all over them. He's not fast like Blackmore or flashy like page, but I sure would like to pull off as many memorable licks as he does in his solos. Nothing that's gonna make you go 'wha?' or toss your Grammaw out the winder in disgust or delight, but a keeper live album for sure.

Capn's Final Word: Great live set by the last-ever respectable incarnation of Sabbath.

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Born Again - Warner Brothers 1983

Not the same Ian Gillan you're thinking of. Ol' Purpleman himself joined up with Sabbath after Dio left in the wake of the whole Live Evil scandal. ('You turned up your vocals in the mix!' 'No I didn't!' 'Yes you did!' 'No I didn't!') and what was billed as the huge Meeting of the Metal Titans turned out to be Inspiration for Spinal Tap. I mean, when you're one of the most popular and respected metal bands ever, and you sign on one of the most respected metal vocalists ever, you don't expect the sort of bungling that the boys somehow found time to do in 1983. First off, look at the cover of that record. Just look at it. Neon colors, orange, yellow, and sickly blue. A photo of a newborn baby altered to look like a little demon spawn (little did the cover artist know that actual babies, fresh from being born, sorta look like demon spawn anyway. He coulda just put an unaltered picture of one of those little blue prunes, umbilical cord still attached, covered in goo, with those puffy eyes that put Rocky Balboa to shame gaping up at the camera, and he'd be done. But he had to go and screw up the work of Mother Nature herself!) and you're trying to sell this record? It's not awful enough to be scary, not scary enough not to be silly, and not silly enough to make us think it's a joke. It's just repellant, that's all, and just one of the ways the '83 Sabs wow us with their piss poor judgment. I heard a story about the cover art that, when they showed it to Geezer, he actually went off and vomited. Sweet! Even the band hated it! And they STILL released it....that's so bright. And you still wonder why everyone brands these guys idiots?

Oh, and another cool story about this incarnation of the group is the Stonehenge stage set I'm sure they were all fantastically proud of. Remember, try to keep from giggling because this all happened just prior to the actual release of the Spinal Tap movie. And Geezer Butler might be listening and I'd hate to hurt his feelings. I hear he's fragile, man. He was a conscientious objector, man. He's got issues! Anyway, they made this stage set so huge it couldn't even fit into most of the places they were scheduled to play. Narf! Mulligan! Doh! Like this band hadn't gone from cartoonish to simply doltish in about 5 years. The critics were right. Sometimes even stoner headbangers get it right. Sabbath needed to pack it in before all this happened.

The final thing you need to laugh at is what's contained within these grooves. First off, Gillan's voice is shot, and no matter how hard he tries to pop off his patented banshee screeches at every turn, he comes across like a guy who's late for his emphysema treatments. But he's the featured guy in the mix so often you can't help but listen to him and only him. I mean, if Iommi had been so concerned about Dio's level in the mix of Live Evil, why didn't he give a fuck about Gillan totally dominating Born Again? Was he totally in awe of his old competitor, or had he just given up? If these lyrics were a little beyond the primordial slime level they are, this problem wouldn't be as compounded as it is.

The songwriting is another major problem. This stuff just fails on most levels. The only really memorable songs are 'Disturbing the Priest', but only because it TOTALLY sounds like something on Van Halen 3, which as I may remind you, is not a complement. Still, the song does sound like it was forged in the late 90's and not the early 80's, so maybe that's an accomplishment of a sorts. It's intro, the notorious 'Stonehenge', sounds like an airy synth intro ripped from U2's Unforgettable Fire. Again, not good, but interesting how it prefigures other stuff. 'Zero The Hero' has a good grinding heave to it, but doesn't much sound like Sabbath at all. I mean, this is grunge music! Did Sabbath invent grunge with Born Again? Possibly so, but if all grunge music sounded like that for seven minutes, we'd have been worshipping the Happy Mondays in 1992 instead of Soundgarden. The rest of the album is much worse than any of that. I'm mentioning 'Digital Bitch' because it is truly a new low for the band, something you don't necessarily expect to happen every day. Oh my, 'I think I'm working for a digital bitch, she's so rich, the digital bitch'  to a carbon copy of Purples 'Highway Star'. Where do I sign, baby? At least Gillan sounds like himself on this tune, other than his howls where his voice ddrops out about a second through and he keeps going for five more. Painful, indeed.

Anyway, did the band really think it was 'born again' with this album and lineup, and would successfully soldier on for another 10 years like that? Wotta bunch of cads. The audience didn't bite, the critics savaged it (like they did every Sabbath album ever made), Gillan fled to reform Purple Mark II, and Iommi was left all by his lonesome with nothing but a black SG and the Black Sabbath name.

Capn's Final Word: Really time to quit now. The downside has hunted down and systematically executed and disemboweled the good side. A horrid album with only really 'Zero The Hero' to recommend it in any way.

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VideoBrit Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: Thank you for your review, it confirms that I am the only person in existence that actually likes "Born Again".  Although the lyrics of Digital Bitch do make me want to kill myself.

On another subject, though, I think that Heaven and Hell (also Sabbath) should have been rated "A plus" simply because of Dio going "then we did... THE DEMON DANCE!!!!!!!!".  I don't think I've ever laughed so hard, not even on the intro to Iron Man, or when I saw that Bush's approval rating was falling rapidly.

VideoBrit     Your Rating: D+
Any Short Comments?: Christ Almighty, what was I THINKING when I left that last review?  This album is fucking horrible.  I only got it because I heard "Zero The Hero" on a greatest hits collection, fooled myself into thinking that the rest of the album would be just as good (dammit, I still love me some Zero The Hero), then spent two weeks trying to convince myself that I hadn't just spent twenty dollars on what was ultimately a towering mountain of shit.  I mean, I used to like DISTURBING THE PRIEST.  DISTURBING THE FUCKING PRIEST.  "Do we mind distuurrbbing the priiieeesttt?  Notatall notatall not in the leeeeaaaasssssttt!!!!"  Dear God.  I love Sabbath like one of my own children, but WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SHIT?  Stay away.  Far, far away.

Matt     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Iommi realised another of his fantasies, and got his second Purple/Rainbow member; this time, Ian Gillan (Coverdale turned him down). Good heavy vibe to this album, but Ian tries to scream too much. Cheesy cheap effect instrumentals carry on with "The Dark" and "Stonehenge".. Great riffing in Zero the Hero, and brilliant lyrics.


Roy Davies      Your Rating: B-
Any Short Comments?: regarding the cover- I read an interview with the designer (Krusher Joule IIRC) who had been asked to come up with a cover design by the BS management- said designer also had a lucrative deal with Ozzy & sharon so came up with the worst desin possible to put the sabs organisation off- unfortunately they loved it!!It was Gillan who said he puked when he saw the cover, not Geezer by the way.
As for the music- I hated it at the time but hindsight its one of Gillan's better studio perfomances, great riffs too, as you's expect; a
'growr' of an album that holds up much better than some of the Ozzy era stuff.

Seventh Star - Warner Brothers 1986.

Even if Iommi never had any intention of putting the Sabbath name on this 'album' before the record company insisted, there's still not any excuse for this. Imagine the best Sabbath ever got. Master of Reality, right? Possibly, for you, Paranoid or remove everything that made that great. Leave it like that. Without the great vocals, the shattering riffs, the all-encompassing heaviness. The originality, the balls. I can't even identify that this is Tony Iommi playing most of the time, for it could just be any sort of heavy metal studio hack taken off the shelf with this production. I might hear faint echoes of the old vibes on 'Turn to Stone' and a few others which maybe don't make my skin crawl, and the title track isn't a truly noxious 'Kashmir' ripoff, but only a little bit. There's no horns, for one thing. But there's crap 80's MTV production and a hairball singer named Glenn Hughes who plays about a zillion solo concerts in Russia every year because they're the only people who remember who the hell he is. Glenn is no Ozzy. No Dio. Not even Gillan. I mean, Gillan was trying to show everyone he was still the Child in Time when he was more of a Mule, but Glenn Hughes is just a bumbling blues-rock guy who ruins everything he touches on this album, which is a lot. 'No Stranger to Love' is a pathetic ballad, 'Heart Like a Wheel' is, despite rumours to the contrary, not the Linda Ronstadt album you were hoping it would be. Stay far away, but do I have to tell you that?

Capn's Final Word: For an album with only the weakest of contributions from Iommi, the story that this was intended to be a solo album is a joke. A bad album ruined by Glenn Hughes and fake baked production that sounds as heavy as a loaf of Wonder.

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Adam Hall     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: The guitar sounds excellent on this album. It rocks!

(Capn's Response: If you think this rocks, youre head would explode if you ever heard Deep Purple's In Rock. Either that or you'd yawn. I feel somewhat pessimistic about your taste.)

Matt     Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: "No Stranger to Love" borrows from Whitesnake's 1984 "Love ain't no stranger" - lyrically. Musically, it borrows from Foreigner. The fast songs, like Danger Zone, sound completely non-Sabbathish (pre-1986) but I do like them. The line "Don't leave me standing here" in "Heart like a wheel" reminds strongly of Rainbow's Joe Lynn Turner's rendered "Stranded". As a matter of fact, Glenn Hughes do not sound like he used to sound in Purple.. he sounds like Joe Lynn Turner. The song "Seventh Star" is a good Stargazer sequel.


The Eternal Idol - Warner Brothers 1981.

Yow. Seriously better guitar riffing than that which I just got done hacking to pieces with Seventh Star. Iommi plays notes the whole time, not just chugging along on chords like he's done since, you know, since God was born. The singing (by Dio fan club president Tony Martin) makes me want to run and hide from the generic heavy metal self-importance, but you can have a blast sitting here and just enjoying Tony Iommi being himself again. Oh, thank God, Tony, we thought you were gone forever! The good riffs abound here: 'Hard Life To Live', 'The Shining', 'Glory Ride', 'Born To Lose', and 'Nightmare' all have these Iommi-certified scratchy motherfathers that definitely come from The Good Place in Tony's mind, rather than the Pit where Born Again and Seventh Star originated.

Some more caveats. This album is generic 80's metal beyond even that of Heaving in Hell and Blob Ooze, it just happens to do it with Iommi totally on riff fire. The backing band (with former ELO-er Bev Bevin on skins! 'FIIIIIRRRREEEE ONNNNN HIIIIIIIIIGHHHHH!!!') is a whole lot better than last time, but they mostly play to not get in the way of the Tony's rather than making interesting contributions of their own. They're uninspiring to say the least. The production is non-intrusive, which deserves a big slap on the back after Star took us to twooky MTV school, but it's not at all heavy enough for what Iommi's putting down. He deserves some real meat coming out of the speakers, like a guitar in each channel and some loud bass, and Tony Martin mixed WAAAYYY down in the mix where he can be ignored like a good lad. But it's not like that, so you'll just have to interest yourself with Tony playing as only Tony really can.

So while we're setting no worlds ablaze here with this generitude and unorignalitiness, and I'm not convinced enough to actually raise this grade any more than this (I mean, no one but a Black Sabbath fan is going to get anything out of this record, and it is not just a few notches below Black Sabbath or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath for damn sure), so a B- it stays. I will rate it just higher than the two Dio records, since I think the Martin factor is outweighed by how good Iommi plays on this record, however. Is this the best Sabbath studio album after Sabotage? Possibly!

Capn's Final Word:  Oh, and if you're playing Madden 2003, try to get Tony Martin on your team. He's cheap and fast and is at the top of the free agent pool. If you're playing Iommi 1987, leave him on the scrap heap and go for someone else.

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Matt    Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: This album's cover is strongly reminscent of Whitesnake's 1982 "Saints an' Sinners". "The Shining" is a very striking moment.. good lyrics, well rendered, both by Martin and Gillen (Have both versions). Excellent sound, perfact for its time. Who said Black Sabbath had to be heavy? Ancient Warrior just sticks out in your mind.. Actually, everything except Nightmare and the title track is perfect on this album. "Some kind of woman", on some versions.. could it BE more Purplesque ? "Strange Kind of Woman", not to mention the song "Hard lovin woman" on "House of Blue Light", though I am not sure about release dates.


Headless Cross - IRS 1989

Nigh on a winter's day and dirty street whores climbing all over the front of my tractor trailer cab, lawdy lawdy but this album blows it. It's like they took Billy's External Idol, removed all the cool riffs (which were the only reason to like that one anyhow), and just crank up the parts that sucked to an extremely loud volume. The synth is louder. The drum echo is louder. The drum playing is much worse: we have Man About Town Cozy Powell this time instead of the ELO guy, and even though he ruled on Rainbow's Rising, all he does is pound 4/4 like an idiot here. Tony Martin takes it upon himself to oversing and strain himself on just about every note he attempts. At times I think maybe I should call a doctor...maybe the man has a hernia or something. When he sings the title track, 'headless cross' becomes 'heyadlosss crawusss!!!' and he often reminds me of one of those early black and white b-movie villains. 'Nar! Nar!'

God knows what they're trying to get across to us on Brainless Crap. You've got entertaining song titles like 'Kill In the Spirit World' and 'When Death Calls' (I guess that's similar to When Nature Calls or When Mormons Call) that I'm sure would impress the most gifted kindergartner and operators of Wicca clans and other such children, but what about us with a mental age over 5 1/2? Are we to believe that Tony and Tony seriously believe in this nonsene or what? I'm gonna make a big assumption here and say that Tony I. seriously didn't give a shit just as long as he got his fat paycheck and got to sit on his arse reading comic books at his Scottish pig farm or  wherever he spends his time, and just left everything to Tony M....who, unfortunately, probably lives and breaths lyrics like these you see here. The simple fact of the fecal matter is this: with every song sounding like MTV 'pump your fist and shake your butt to the teen anthem, you dumbasses!' 80's metal, with how loud that synth drones over everything, with how few notes Iommi deems necessary to play...I wouldn't even define this as heavy metal anymore. It sounds like Survivor arena rock. God.

Oh, 'Black Moon' has a cool riff, or this'd be an F.

Capn's Final Word: So bad I rated it significantly lower than Born Again.

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Dominique van der Geld  Your Rating:  A+

Any Short Comments?:     This is actually a phenomenal album. Maybe you hate me for saying this, but 'Headless Cross' is the first and best album I've ever heard (and yes, I've heard all the others). 'When Death Calls' also features Brian May (I'm also a huge fan of Queen, and he's their guitarist), who plays a superb solo on it. This is a spectacular album. I really love it. I'm surprised not much people like this.

(Capn's Response: Oh, Dominique....hate is such a strong word. What about just 'loathe to the point of avoiding you entirely'?)

Tim     Your Rating: F
Any Short Comments?: Found this as I was lp hunting at the local Salvation Army. After taking it home and listening to it I chucked it in the garbage. Pure crap.You went easy on the rating for it. I am a huge Sabbath fan but after Mob Rules it was all over. And by the way......the Reunion cd was just the same songs I have heard for years. Nothing new. Thanks!


Matt    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Excellent album! Brillant mood.. "Headless Cross" is the best "Heaven & Hell" remake one could ever do. Fast songs are credible on that one.. "Devil & Daughter"; did they knew Ozzy would come up with "Devil's Daughter" or vice versa? "When Death Calls" is a great ballad turning fast song. "Call of the wild" is yet again another Purple's tune's name; while it's insistence on the word "Hero" makes us think of Ozzy's bonsu song on "No Rest for the Wicked". Memorable too are the lyrics duplicated in Blue Murder's "Valley of the Kings", written when Tony Martin was there. "In glory die" in "Kill in the spirit world" and "A thousand times over, you'll hear on the wind in the name of hell, these sinners never sinned" in "Devil & Daughter". And what about "Black Moon", when ELP, though without Cozy Powell, would record "Dark Moon" some years later. But aside of those lyrical coincidences, the music on this album is simply addictive. This is the Sabbath that was !"existing" when I discovered them (their old stuff) and I used to think it was inferior to their classics.. but 15 years later, I would say it ain't.

TYR - Warner Brothers 1990

Presumably a concept album about something I can't identify and don't care to find out, but if you want to know if Sabbath can somehow reach deep down within themselves and make a concept album suck just as bad as the no-concept (and no-effort) Headless Cock, the answer is a big ol' yesiree Bob. Iommi and the boys you've never heard of pull another gloss metal album out of their colon, and aren't we and Guitar Player and Hit Parader all happy about that information. I can see their writers getting stiffies and preparing their typewriters for another 4.5/5 grade, because Sabbath is like, totally rad and stuff. Now, I remember very well when TYR came out. I was a metalhead and so were all my other loser 7th grade friends who hated shop class, and we'd all heard of Sabbath and worshipped 'War Pigs' as one of the greatest songs ever made. Now, I was intrigued by TYR because of the title (from a Nordic god), and because I thought Sabbath was like totally Satanic, man! And that's important to an idiotic adolescent with a squeaky voice, no hope for female companionship, and parents too strict to allow me to grow my hair long. I mean, an album with the title like TYR by a band called Black Sabbath might make people fear me, might hold secrets to girls and popularity, or at least make all those jerky jocks think twice before fucking with us at lunch again. Well, I never got TYR, and I'm sure glad I didn't, because I'm sure I would've forced myself to like it, probably inadvertently turning myself off to music straight off, I would have played it for my friends and they would've laughed, I'd somehow convince myself it was great and write mean, over-serious private attacks thinly veiled as Reader Comments and sent them to anyone who dared give this album a rating lower than that of Paranoid. And grabbed me a shotgun and killed all the whiteys I saw. So sad.

Just don't make the mistake and buy this album for yourself. I suppose its slightly better than last time, at least in terms of a few moments in which I sorta thought it might be rocking, but it turns out it's just the same ol' game with last time, yet with some incomprehensible pagan theme for flavor. Well, some of you may give a shit about polytheistic religions, but I, being a raging atheist, don't give one flying banana split about whatever he's singing about on here. The chord chugging is slightly higher in the mix than last time, but Iommi's still light years behind what he succeded with on Eternal Idol and he's now playing so simply you know he's recycling something he did 8-10 years earlier, but darn it all to Cleveland, you can't place exactly where because, surprise! These chord chuggachugga patterns (they're not even riffs, so don't ask) all sound the same when you get right down to it! Oh gosh, if they're not just parodying themselves and cashing paychecks things are even worse than they seem.

Capn's Final Word: 'Oh noooo, not again!' Someone bring back Dio, for all is forgiven.

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K.J. Foxx     Your Rating:   A-

Any Short Comments?:       I just don't get it.  Every independent review I've ever seen on this album rips it to shreds and to me, it's a total,  unadulterated classic.  The drum work by Cozy Powell is earth-shaking, Tony Martin hitting his peak as a vocalist (shedding his Dio imitations, and his voice isn't shot yet like 3 years later), and Iommi playing all sorts of great stuff.

   This is the ONLY Sabbath album I can listen to, front to back, without hitting ye olde skip button.  Every song is distinctive, the longest song (Sabbath Stones) is a concise, gripping 7ish minutes that never loses interest, and, good lord, it's all just so GOOD.

   I just don't get how an album like 'Never Say Die' can even be remotely enjoyed, where this forgotten classic gets ripped a new orifice everywhere I look.  But, my favorite song from NSD was 'Air Dance', so maybe it's just me.

   Hope you appreciate the dissenting opinion.  Great site.

 Matt     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: On the same level as Headless Cross, except perhaps for "Feels Good to me", which is reminescent of "No stranger to love" both in its structure as in its video. "Anno Mundi" is a very good cover of "Children of the Sea", with memorable lyrics. "Law Maker" and "Heaven in Black" great rocking songs. Some instrumentals, but they actually succeed in creating some mood here with them. I like the two-part song "Odin's court" and "Valhalla". Great thematic album, without having story, just some themes here and there (but why "Feels Good to Me" ??). I will listen to Jerusalem over War Pigs on any day.


Dehumanizer -Warner Brothers 1992

I've actually spent a few days listening over this album to decide exactly what I think of it, and unfortunately the truth became evident: You can't listen to this album more than say, 3 or 4 times before it starts sucking all kinds of Steve Largent all over the place. That's a real shame, because I thought this might've been the second coming of Eternal Idol there for a minute, when my ears picked up a few hard-knockin' riffs there at the beginning, but it really just comes down to being the second coming of Dio. Which is a huge selling point, I suppose, and add in that both Geezer Butler and Vinnie Appice have also rejoined, thus reforming the 1981 Sabbath, and your own expectations might rise up just a tad bit, too. Well, don't let those hopes run wild and start popping the heads off daisies in the park or anything, because Dehumanizer, while coming off all new-tough and punchy in its production, and wile throwing a few Iommi riff-bones around, is simply not that far different than Sabbath's recent (awful) albums.

Alright, I need to get this out right now, because I really don't want to make this review very long. I could've just said 'Dio returns. A few good riffs, but ultimately disappointing.' and left it and gone and made myself some hot cocoa and looked for jobs some more, but I feel I have to say how much I hate Dio for ruining a pretty decent riff tune on 'After All (The Dead)' by saying '!!!!' like he does. We (I mean, the royal we, of course) could just be sitting through another chugga-chugga non-riff like 'T.V. Crimes' and Dio could do his little solo spots all he wants, but noooo....he has to ruin a decent song for us. An absolute shame, because decent songs are as hard to come by here as virgins in Bangkok. The songs get boring around track 3 or 4 and don't let up. This is a concept album, but Lord bless me and take me home if I can figure out what the concept is. There's a few nice idea spread about, fer instance, the intro section to 'Master of Insanity' is rad, but then the song begins to suck pretty hard when the riff to 'Yummy Yummy Yummy, I've Got a Quart Of Sperm In My Tummy' from Roger Miller's Physical Graffiti album comes in and you can't stand another wanton moment. Oh jeez, this album sorta blows it, now that I think of it. Make sure to check your brain cell count before and after listening.

Capn's Final Word: Heavy and Dio sounds okay most of the time, and I wouldn't laugh if I saw it in your record collection. Just really uninspiring. Like doing sit-ups.

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Jason Farrell  Your Rating: A-   
Any Short Comments?: It's the early Nineties, so the hopeful, Daoist Ronnie James Dio is no more. There is now more bile and spite to his sociomyths, as well as an End Times sensibility that really manages to sell all this Stygian sliding. In "T.V. Crimes," he castigates televangelists. If you're thinking that he couldn't have picked an easier target, then you are completely correct, but RJD's taste is unparalleled even when his hatred isn't. His characters' vow to forego food in order to buy Jim Bakker a limousine sets up the parasitic relationship rather well, I think. Organized Christianity also takes a hit, in "Buried Alive." The problem, however, is that Ron's rants are much more effective when no specific enemy is singled out, when symbols-made-flesh and Jungian archetypes are the villains of the piece. In blowing his cover, Dio looks like just another social critic. The multiple layers of theme and plot that imbued his early solo albums are on the backs of milk carton!s now. Only "Sins of the Father" and "I" manage to stay the course of Gnostic metaphors and psycho-mystic mindscapes, and those two moments are both too brief.

The production is by Mack and, like his superb work with Queen, the whole show is pristine beyond belief. The instrumentation is clearly separated without losing any edge, but the consequence of this sound equality is that Butler's bass is way too low in the mix. His geothermal lines ought to be leading the charge, not bringing up the rear. Speaking of rear, "Too Late" is a trite, overly-doomy Prozac capsule about demon possession. Dio voxes the hell out of it, but it doesn't manage to inflate to the size of the thyroidal material around it. And "After All (The Dead)" has got some heady atmospherics, but it's too much of a dirge, more suited to Ozzy of '71 than Dio of '92. The lyrics declare an apology for existence from the living to the dead, and not even Rush has tackled that thorny, metaphysical issue...

...and none of the above really matters in the long run, since this album is all Armageddon-ready uranium-metal, leaving dinosaur-sized prints in the marsh-muck of your mind. "I" is the pinnacle when it come to orchestration and poetry and the whole shebang; an ominous forward lunge and plaintive interludes alternate, while the lyrics pay homage to Thomas Hobbes, David Bowie, and the book of Revelation. "Time Machine" ended up on the soundtrack for Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and deserved better. "Master of Insanity" and "Letters From Earth" turn out to be the two pit-traps of the record, the former snaring you in sinister riff-wire and the latter bogging you down in a moist, rhythm-section boil. Finally, "Computer God" is a patented Sabbath-style multi-riff suite, one that you're not going to be altogether sure of until it kicks into high gear halfway through. The Luddite theme is perfect for the rock world's most prominent medievalists.

Matt     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: Just a side note before I begin:  This is a concept album about the evils of modern technology, just to let you know.  Now that that's settled, allow me to give my opinion on this album.

Personally, I think Dehumanizer is a good album.  Oh no, it's definitely no classic, but I'd take this over their other post-1982 shitty albums any day of the week.  The band sounds somewhat refreshed here.  Ronnie James Dio sounds excellent as usual, and Tony Iommi seems to have much more life in his riffs.  T.V. Crimes, for example, is the best song they have done since Mob Rules, while I is another great rocker.  Computer God sounds like it would be more suited for Ozzy-era material, but it sure beats the crap out of anything on TYR (which IMO is their worst album, barely beating out Headless Cross and Seventh Star).  The rest of the songs would qualify as filler, but they are higher quality filler than what is normally expected.  And the production is pretty good as well.  Tony's guitar sounds MEAN again.

The only complaint I have about this album is that most of the tempos are too slow.  T.V. Crimes is really the only effective fast paced song.  But other than that, this is pretty good. I much prefer this over their other 90's records.

Matt     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: Great drum sound.. really.. Best drum sound ever. Some cheesy themes (TV Crimes, televangelists? gimme a break, even Bullet Boys had had their go by then and Iron Maiden fell in the trap, not to mention Ozzy had done it). Someone should be punished for the tap-int-today's-youth TV Crimes video with skateboarding and all that. I was 16 at the time and cringing at the sight of it. "After All", as a title, way too reminescent of "After Forever". "Letters from earth" is Snowblind. "Master of Insanity".. eurhh.. seen this title before, or almost?! "Time Machine" a very good piece. "Too Late" simply boring. "I" comes across as the best song.


Mike     Your Rating: C-
Any Short Comments?: yeeeecccchhhh.

Good christ, this one's a stinky.

and the best heavy drum sound ever clearly belongs to Swans on the "Young God" EP. Your head disintegrates with every snare crack.


Cross Purposes - IRS 1994

Better or worse than Dehumanizer? Probably worse, but not by much. Better or worse than TYR or Headless Cross? Oh, definitely better. All the real genuine second-string Sabbath guys from last time are gone except for Geezer (and, doncha know, Mr. Iommi has signed on for another album. Just when we thought he wouldn't or something. Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord! And you thought irony and sarcasm went out with the 90's. Psha!), and wouldn't you guess who we have back on vocals again? Oh, God, no, not Ozzy. Not yet. No, no, thankfully not Glenn Hughes (he was still vocalizing with The KLF, for Chrissakes! A doinky electronic outfit!) Who else but Mr. Martin, forever forcing me to type Iommi's last name instead of just writing 'Tony' and not worrying about confusing my audience. And though I think I heard a collective groan from said audience upon mentioning Tony Martin's name (or was that a snore? Is there actually anyone out there?), he's actually, really improved to a sort of rougher, bluesier, 90's David Coverdale sound now rather than his 80's Hair God horridness. A big improvement, I'd say. So are Iommi's riffs, but just slightly. 'Back To Eden' is almost funky, and is the highlight for me. The last three songs are criminally boring swill...slow, kerplunking riffs that go on forever. The second song has hilariously bad sensitive doom-ballad posturing that makes me sad. 'Psychophobia' has a great swirling riff.

I've just stopped caring. Perhaps if I were to go away from Black Sabbath for a few years and come back I'd have a fresh perspective on what they're trying to do here. Is it doomier, or not as doomy? Is it more or less original within the narrow confines of post-Ozzy Black Sabbath originality? (meaning, have I heard this riff before or not?) Is is more or less embarrassing than Dehumanizer? It's pretty sad, and I could just say something noncommittal about this record and go onto Forgiven, which I have absolutely no intention of treating objectively because it's so offensively bad. This record isn't that far down, but I'm still giving it a firmly 'don't buy unless you can't live without Sabbath albums in your life' grade. It's still Chinese Nailfile torture for anyone who cares a whit about music that's catchy, original, powerful, and dignified. If you just love that generic flat metal sound, but with a 90's sheen, you should probably put Cross Porpoises on your To Buy list. Or just shoot yourself in the face and save yourself a lifetime of pain and rejection by normal society. .

Capn's Final Word: Certainly not the worst of the Sabbath albums. But what is that saying, exactly? Putting a goatee on an old sow, I'd say.

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Matt     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: Quite disappointing.. the great return of Tony Martin.. I was expecting something as good as Tyr. While Tyr had two ex-Whitesnake (and Ozzy) musicians, on Cross Purposes they got yet another ex-Rainbow (Rondinelli). Too many easy songs about religion, as if they had understood Satanism wasn't being taken seriously, they tried to bash on organised religion and it's abuse.. a bit like they did on TV Crimes. But !! "I Witness", "Psychophobia", "Immaculate Deception" and "Cardinal Sin" are ALL about the subject of religious deception (cults or abusive priests, etc).. give us a break! Psychophobia is the true highlight, where Martin delivers us some rainbows.. as if we were missing RJD.


Forbidden - IRS 1995

Let's just do a quick 'n' filthy Sabbath career overview, okay? So they started out and made a bunch of pretty great groundbreaking metal albums with Ozzy before losing it in the end and then he left. Made two okay but ultimately generic albums with Dio. Made one poor and ultimately horrible album with Ian Gillan. The whole band left except for Tony Iommi, who released a truly horrible album named Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes (still the absolute career nadir for, Iommi), made a comeback with Headless Cross, with Tony Martin as the screecher. Then Sab lost the flow when Cross was followed by two awful records with the same singer. Made another album with Dio that wasn't so great. Two more albums with Martin. Can you see why no one cares? I mean, your most harebrained unreconstructed metal fan might go so far as to defend the almost criminal badness of TYR, but no one got excited when Forbidden got dumped on the market in 1995, no one. And you want to hear a reason for that? Listen to Tony Martin make a total ass of himself on the very first song on the record. While Iommi plays some grinding, string-bending fluff riff, a thinly veiled ripoff of some grunge band or other, Tony Martin starts just talking. Blah blah blah. About 'The Illusion of Power', no doubt. And Martin affects a Cobainian (Cobanite? Cobanist?) vocal tic on the rest of the album to further push the notion that this is a 90's record, dammit. 90's, 30's, 70's, who gives a fuck when you're in such bad taste as this?

The rest of the album is poppier versions of the same stuff they've been passing since Christ knows when. The riffs are okay but the guitar sound is papery. Very pretentious in it's own little offensive way. Has a cartoon Grim Reaper on the cover. Don't make me listen to it any more than I have to.

Capn's Final Word: Sabbath badness makes a turn into the 90's. The Sabbath sound suffers, but the badness carries on.

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Matt     Your Rating: D+
Any Short Comments?: Boring and cheesy.. The Black Sabbath name here just became a caricature. I don't want to dignify that album any more by saying anything more about it.


Reunion - Epic 1998


That's me releasing the breath I've been holding ever since I reviewed Sabotage, just waiting for another unquestionably enjoyable Black Sabbath album to come along. Oh sure, Live Evil was okay, and I didn't cringe too many times during Eternal Idol (or Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules, for that matter) but really....those last 6 or 8 albums were torture. Attempting to lean my ear against that dog vomit over and over again to pick out exactly why I hated the fuck out of the album I was reviewing is gonna probably put me off reviewing large catalogs for awhile. I mean, this has been a real ordeal, but Reunion comes along like the light at the end of the tunnel. We're blessed with a two disc live set from Birmingham, England, 1997 featuring Tony Iommi and a bunch of fools you've never heard of playing Forbidden and TYR in their entirety, adding extended techno dance versions where taste demands. Nothing meshes with the sound of Tony Iommi's Gibson SG more than an Roland 808 and some Whitney Houston samples, doncha know?

Argh. Nope. God save us, it's Ozzy on vocals, Bill Ward on drums, Geezer Butler on bass, and Tony Martin on guitar. FUCK!!!

No, man, it's the same lineup that gave us 'Fairies Wear Boots' playing for their very own home crowd. A greatest hits show, if you will, with only one song from a shitty record ('Dirty Women', for whatever reason. I guess they had a soft spot in their heart for their infighting, sucky period) and no songs from Sabotage, a move which strikes me as being pretty fucking stupid, but no one ever claimed this band was full of Academic Decathaletes, did they? Nope, but they sho can play their old songs just like they're fresh from the studio. Note perfect, I'd say, except for maybe Iommi's guitar sounding a little too reverb-y and tinny-metallic (it's the hall, I'm sure) and Ozzy going 'PUT YOUR FUCKING HANDS UP ALREADY, FUCKHEADS!!!!' every two and a half seconds in the first half. Songs: a pretty good overview, though I there's classics I simply like more than others, like I'd have chosen 'Symptom Of The Universe' on rather than 'Electric Funeral' or 'Dirty Women', but you've got your really good audience singalong on 'War Pigs' (these Brummie fans know the words...), your great bass sound on 'Sweet Leaf', yer lesser-known gems like 'Spiral Architect' that showed why Sabbath was so good to begin with, and about 80 more minutes of music on top of that. Yeah, it's pretty lengthy, but after subjecting onesself to three or four listens of Forbidden, I'll gladly enjoy 1:50 or so of Reunion. Ozzy really is the only singer for this material, and though Dio gave it a good shot back on Live Evil, having Ozzy yelp out 'You Bastards!' on 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' gave me chills. Honestly. And the 'Orchid/Lord Of This World' is gorgeous. No overdubs, as far as my ears can muster...just Geezer left and Tony hard right (be careful when wearing'll blow that one ear out) and the other two somewhere in between. These guys certainly show they're no oldies act...I couldn't imagine them sounding any better than this in the 1970's, not with Live at Last to compare with and considering all the substances they were lording over at that time. I'd have given this the highest grade if it would have only had a few more stretch-out moments...a few more surprises...maybe an unexpected jam part or something. There are the obligatory pair of new songs at the end, but they're not much. At first, 'Psycho Man' sounds like a Forbidden/Cross Purposes grunge song sung by Ozzy in some awful low voice, though the chorus part plows pretty good and the instrumental section in the middle loses the grunge and kicks it in with riffs that make me salivate with Sabotage-esque joy. 'Selling My Soul' sucks, but with all this great stuff around, just end the damn disc early and thank the Lord above that you don't have to attempt to love a new Sabbath disc anymore just because the BS name is on it. Those days are over, the band has been laid to rest, and Tony Iommi is releasing solo albums under his own name like a good boy. And Tony Martin is selling used Kias in rural Arizona. The world has returned to its equilibrium and all can sleep better at night knowing that.

Reunion is very nice stuff. As it is, I'm giving it an A because it's such a good introduction to the band for new fans, and so darned entertaining for us existing fans that a lower grade just seems unjustified. There's seriously songs I want to listen to more than once at one sitting, and on a live record, and that's a rare thing. I really respect them for doing this, and making it seem like an honest reunion, and not just a cash trip.

And you fans should's as good as you could hope.

Capn's Final Word: Oh my God, it was all a joke. They've been kidding for 20 years. The punchline finally comes after 13 albums of embarrassment and scatterbrained self-parody. Oh yes, sir, Mr. or Ms. Sabbath should get this album.

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BlowIn1byU2      Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: I by far feel that this double disc brings back all the fire power that Sabbath ever had. This is without a doubt the greatest Sabbath Cd ever to be released. They need to keep pumping out cds that are more like this, "No Lie Sabbath Till I Die"

Jacob Wareham   Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Obviously the best live Black Sabbbath album there ever was and ever will be. OZZY'S BACK!! After a successful solo career (which REALLY ISN'T all that bad and, in my opinion, deserves some attention - then again I'm just a fanatic psychopath), he decides to re-form with his old bandmates. How cool is that? Ozzy compensates well for his inability to hit those astronomical notes he could hit back in the 70s. The energy and emotion never slump on this huge double-discer, and the studio recordings at the end, "Psycho Man" and "Selling my Soul" aren't bad at all! The former reminds me of "Johnny Blade" a lot, in concept and in the guitarwork. The latter is simply a good song. Now we're talking! This gets an A+ for being the BEST Sabbath live album, easy.


Matt     Your Rating: D
Any Short Comments?: What's the point? Three zombies and a retarded playing songs that they wrote in their early 20s.. I've seen this incarnation playing live in 1999 and was bored to tears. Give me "7th Star" any time.. No energy, no creativity. We all know Iommi's heart is into AOR rock and cock rock, so why bother pretending that these guys are having a good time playing old Sabbath? Listening to this album is like sleeping with a prostitute. You can perhaps have a good time if you manage to forget that on her side, nothing is happening. I'm not that kind of guy.


Mike     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Oh, come on...that tool up there needs to get his facts straight. If "Seventh Star" is a decent album, then I'm a lesbian republican. Which I'm not.

this is good. this is nice. Ozzy/Tony/Geezer/Bill...fuckin' awesome and the way it should be.

did you hear about Ozzy re-recording the rhythm tracks to "Blizzard of Ozz" and "Diary of a Madman" because he wouldn't pay or credit the
original players? not sure if it's true or not...if it is, though, that's a total dick move.


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